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Should Twitter be a Part of Your Business Strategy?

twitter red background

What are you doing? It seems like everyone, especially in the media, is answering that question in 140 characters or less with a “tweet” and letting their “followers” know what they are up to each hour of the day. But is Twitter something that is in its infancy, something that is just a media darling or has it already experienced its fifteen minutes of fame?

These are some of the results of a new LinkedIn Research Network/Harris Poll of 1,015 advertisers from agencies or corporations who are involved in the advertising decision making process surveyed online between June 22 and 30, 2009 and 2,025 U.S. adults surveyed online between June 24 and 26, 2009.

Opinion of Twitter

Just under half of advertisers (45%) say that Twitter is something is in its infancy and its use will grow exponentially over the next few years, while one in five (21%) believe Twitter will not move into the mainstream and is something mostly young people and the media will use. Just under one in five advertisers (17%) believe Twitter is already over and it’s time to find the next best thing while 17% of advertisers say they don’t know enough about Twitter to have an opinion on it. Among consumers it is a different story altogether, as over two-thirds (69%) say they do not know enough about Twitter to have an opinion about it. Just over one in ten say it is just at its infancy (12%), 12% also say it is just something that young people and the media will use and 8% of consumers say it is already over and it’s time to find the next best thing. As might be expected, there is also an age divide on opinions of Twitter. Younger advertisers are more likely to have an opinion on Twitter than their older counterparts (only 11% of 18-39 year olds do not know enough about Twitter to have an opinion compared to 20% of advertisers 40-49 years old and 21% of advertisers 50 and older). Among consumers, the same applies and only half (55%) of adults, 18-34 years old say they don’t know enough to have an opinion, compared to 80% of those 55 and older.

Effectiveness of Twitter

Among those who have an opinion regarding Twitter, feelings about the effectiveness of it for promoting products and ideas are lukewarm among both consumers and advertisers. Among advertisers, just 8% say Twitter is very effective for promoting products and ideas while half (50%) say it is somewhat effective. One-third (34%) of advertisers say it is not that effective and 8% believe it is not at all effective for promoting products and ideas. Among consumers, 8% also say it is very effective for promoting ideas and products and 42% believe it is just somewhat effective. Three in ten (31%) consumers say Twitter is not that effective and 19% feel it is not at all effective for promoting products and ideas.

So What?

Although those of us who watch cable newscasts can’t help but notice their proclivity to invite us to follow the show or host on Twitter, it does not seem as though Twitter has made it mainstream yet, let alone to its edge. While advertisers and marketers expect Twitter to grow, its effectiveness as a marketing tool will most likely hinge on consumer education: consumers need to learn more about what it is, why they should pay attention to it, and why they should “tweet.” It is the advertisers and marketers who should play the lead role in promoting consumer education if they truly want to move Twitter beyond infancy and into its “tween years.”

Click here to read the full report in a PDF format.